Post List

  • December 3, 2009
  • 10:25 AM

Early diagnosis saves lives – and here’s the evidence

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

It’s been a big week for cancer news, as we blogged about yesterday.
The Government’s report on progress against the Cancer Reform Strategy showed how much cancer survival varies across the country, and another story presented figures from Professor Mike Richards, National Cancer Director, estimating that earlier diagnosis could save between 5,000 and 10,000 lives a [...]... Read more »

  • December 3, 2009
  • 09:54 AM

How Dark is Barack Obama?

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

During the 2008 primaries, the Clinton campaign was accused of altering footage of Barack Obama to darken his skin tone. Supposedly, this would activate negative stereotypes of Americans towards Black people; possibly following the same logic that Time magazine applied in 1994 when it darkened the face of O.J. Simpson for its cover.
Whether or not this type of (subtle) manipulation actually suffices to swing people's decisions for something as important as an electoral vote is questionable (it ........ Read more »

Caruso EM, Mead NL, & Balcetis E. (2009) Political partisanship influences perception of biracial candidates' skin tone. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 19934033  

  • December 3, 2009
  • 09:39 AM

Gone in 60 (milli)seconds

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Intracellular proteins have to be degraded, more or less at the same rate as new proteins are produced (or the cell would eventually burst). On the other hand, you can’t go about degrading proteins willy-nilly.  There are vast and complex systems for identifying proteins that should be destroyed, tagging them, and then moving them into [...]... Read more »

  • December 3, 2009
  • 08:30 AM

What to do when a key tortoise goes extinct? Introduce an exotic...

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

What do you do when a keystone species goes extinct causing major disruption to ecosystem interactions and processes?

Christine Griffiths and fellow researchers offer a controversial solution to this problem for the case of the extinct giant tortoises endemic to the Mascarene islands. Introduce two exotic species of giant tortoises to replace the ones that have gone extinct.... Read more »

  • December 3, 2009
  • 04:28 AM

It’s Snowing (JavaScript)!

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

You know it’s December when it starts snowing in your web browser.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Or programmatically:
snowStorm = new SnowStorm();
There was a time, not so very long ago when JavaScript snow would have been “best viewed in browser x”. Thankfully now its much more reliable, JBrowse [1] is a nice example [...]... Read more »

Skinner, M., Uzilov, A., Stein, L., Mungall, C., & Holmes, I. (2009) JBrowse: A next-generation genome browser. Genome Research, 19(9), 1630-1638. DOI: 10.1101/gr.094607.109  

  • December 3, 2009
  • 12:00 AM

Scientists find way to strengthen memories during sleep

by Christian Jarrett in BPS Research Digest

If only we could make more constructive use of all the time that we spend asleep. People have tried playing various tapes to themselves while they're dozing, from foreign vocab lists to stop-smoking mantras, but they're all the wrong side of useless. What we do know for sure is that sleep is important for memory consolidation, if only we could tap into this somehow. Now, finally, John Rudoy and colleagues have provided some elusive evidence for how learning during sleep can be enhanced.Twelve pa........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:30 PM

Alternate structures and catalysis in cyclophilin

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Of all the sources of structural variability in proteins, the hardest to pin down is side-chain conformational heterogeneity. Side chains aren't always easy to model into their primary conformation in the first place — you need excellent crystal diffraction or NMR data to do it. Even if you pulled that off, it's not always clear how (or if) side-chain fluctuations relate to a protein's activity. If we carefully examine our data for the faintest signals, however, we can sometimes find evide........ Read more »

Fraser, J., Clarkson, M., Degnan, S., Erion, R., Kern, D., & Alber, T. (2009) Hidden alternative structures of proline isomerase essential for catalysis. Nature, 462(7273), 669-673. DOI: 10.1038/nature08615  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 09:21 PM

An alternative cloning strategy: yeast recombinational cloning

by Alejandro Montenegro-Montero in MolBio Research Highlights

As part of my Ph.D thesis, I have to generate a lot of transcriptional fusions (constructs in which a promoter of choice is cloned in front of a reporter gene in order to evaluate transcriptional regulation. Such plasmids can then be transformed into your model organism to study this regulation in vivo).Traditionally, this involves amplifying the region of interest (in my case a promoter region) ... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 06:02 PM

Risky ramblings

by Jan Husdal in

Why such a title? The abstract of this article promises to highlight six areas of supply chain risk and discuss these at length, showing how they are endemic to the extended enterprise, and develop a typology for categorizing them. And indeed, a lengthy discussion it is, hence the “rambling”. That said, it is a lengthy discussion not to be missed.
... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 04:25 PM

Benford's Mathemagical Law

by Daniel Hawes in Ingenious Monkey | 20-two-5

A wide range of naturally occurring number collections show a very distinct pattern: They more often feature a "one" as their first digit than any other number. This distributive feature has been described as Benford's law. Benford's law is an intriguing classic well worth (re-)appreciating; especially since it is often misunderstood...... Read more »

Fewster, R. (2009) A Simple Explanation of Benford's Law. The American Statistician, 63(1), 26-32. DOI: 10.1198/tast.2009.0005  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:28 PM

Simulation a Cat-Like Brain

by Olexandr Isayev in

IBM’s Almaden Research Center announced in November that it had produced a “cortical simulation” of the scale and complexity of a cat brain. This simulation ran on one of IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputers, in this case at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL):
Scientists, at IBM Research – Almaden, in collaboration with colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley [...]... Read more »

R. Ananthanarayanan, S. K. Esser, H. D. Simon, & D. S. Modha. (2009) The Cat is Out of the Bag: Cortical Simulations with 109 Neurons, 1013 Synapses. Proceedings of the Conference on High Performance Computing Networking, Storage and Analysis , 1-12. DOI: 10.1145/1654059.1654124  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:23 PM

How to make your brain shrink: age

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience reports that significant reductions in cortical volume occur during normal aging over the span of only one year. The researchers collected MRI data from 142 healthy elderly people aged 60-91 (60 is elderly? Really?). Cortical volume reduction was detectable in several regions, but most prominently in temporal and prefrontal cortices which of course includes regions involved in language function. No wonder I can't remember names anymore... Fjell, A., ........ Read more »

Fjell, A., Walhovd, K., Fennema-Notestine, C., McEvoy, L., Hagler, D., Holland, D., Brewer, J., & Dale, A. (2009) One-Year Brain Atrophy Evident in Healthy Aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(48), 15223-15231. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3252-09.2009  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 02:10 PM

Big Cover-Up

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Some marine creatures build more shell in acidified waters

... Read more »

Ries, J., Cohen, A., & McCorkle, D. (2009) Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification. Geology. info:/10.1130/G30210A.1

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:54 PM

Reduced predator populations lead to algal blooms

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Algal blooms are a phenomenon in which algal populations in a marine area proliferate rapidly, creating a water-column shield that blocks sunlight and oxygen. These blooms are usually attributed to rises in nitrogen levels from human agriculture and industrial runoff, which fertilize the algae. But a study in the current issue of Ecological Applications shows [...]

... Read more »

Eriksson, B., Ljunggren, L., Sandström, A., Johansson, G., Mattila, J., Rubach, A., Råberg, S., & Snickars, M. (2009) Declines in predatory fish promote bloom-forming macroalgae. Ecological Applications, 19(8), 1975-1988. DOI: 10.1890/08-0964.1  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:34 PM

Back to the basics: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Psychosocial Factors in Low Back Pain

by Bronwyn Thompson in Healthskills: Skills for Healthy Living

In New Zealand, the national accident insurer, Accident Compensation Corporation, has been reviewing its pain management service contracts. The latest message from both the Government and ACC is the need to reduce costs (not that I’ve ever heard anyone say ‘let’s go for broke, let’s spend all we can!’) and one way to do [...]... Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 01:28 PM

New Zicam study shows possible mechanism for anosmia

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

Remember the Zicam debacle? To catch you up, Zicam has been promoted for years as a "homeopathic cold remedy". It is of course neither. Since it contains measurable amounts of zinc, it isn't "homeopathic", and since there is no cure for the common cold, it's not a remedy. In addition to having neither of it's promoted qualities, the FDA has received hundreds of reports of people losing their sense of smell (became "anosmic") after using intranasal Zicam. As Steve Novella has pointed out, th........ Read more »

Lim, J., Davis, G., Wang, Z., Li, V., Wu, Y., Rue, T., & Storm, D. (2009) Zicam-Induced Damage to Mouse and Human Nasal Tissue. PLoS ONE, 4(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007647  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 12:31 PM

Mitochondrial Networks

by Lab Rat in Lab Rat

Having taken a brief look at some plastids last week, I thought I should probably balance things out by writing about mitochondria; the energy generating centres of the (eukaryote) cell. Like plastids, mitochondria are thought to originate from endosymbiosed bacteria-like organisms and are often shown as looking something like the picture on the right. As well as creating energy in the form of ATP mitochondria are also involved in the B-oxidation of fatty acids (producing energy from fats), Iron........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 12:27 PM

Autism and Schizophrenia: proof from comparative genomics

by sandygautam in The Mouse Trap

Image via Wikipedia

I have blogged extensively about the Autism and Schizophrenia as opposites on a continuum theory. I remember first putting this theory in words in an article 3 yrs back on the mouse trap titled Autism and Schizophrenia: the two cultures. That 2006 article, in turn, was inspired by Daniel Nettle’s 2005 article in [...]Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Related posts:CNVs and Autism/ Schizophrenia I had been meaning to comment on a recent paper...Autism, Schizophreni........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:33 AM

What causes antigenic drift?

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

HA structure showing mutating amino acids1

Anyone who’s taken a virology class, and many who haven’t, know about “antigenic drift” and “antigenic shift”. These are usually used to explain influenza virus changes over time (although of course the same concepts apply to many other viruses). Antigenic shift refers to large, abrupt changes in the [...]... Read more »

Hensley, S., Das, S., Bailey, A., Schmidt, L., Hickman, H., Jayaraman, A., Viswanathan, K., Raman, R., Sasisekharan, R., Bennink, J.... (2009) Hemagglutinin Receptor Binding Avidity Drives Influenza A Virus Antigenic Drift. Science, 326(5953), 734-736. DOI: 10.1126/science.1178258  

  • December 2, 2009
  • 10:28 AM

The Circumvention of Compulsory Sex

by Johnny in Ecographica

Males are sexually coercive. During initial encounters with the opposite sex, they will go to great lengths to impress and entice; they’ll offer gifts, sing, dance, and do whatever else is necessary to win a female’s affections. However, should these preliminary advances be rejected, the males from a multitude of different animal species will unhesitantly apply the tactics of deceit, intimidation and even brute force to satisfy their reproductive drives. ... Read more »

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